From panto fun to grand opera on the big screen, there's plenty to enjoy...
Puss in Boots, Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre, January 10 to 26
LB Drama Group present this festive treat. Jack the miller’s son has just inherited a cat. But this cat is no ordinary feline. And with the help of a charming fairy, Puss in Boots develops the power of speech – soon Puss helps our humble hero, Jack, on his way to fame and fortune. But between Jack and fortune lies a terrible ogre, a wicked fairy, Jack’s bumbling, not-too-bright, brothers, as well as some rather large rabbits, not to mention a king and queen in search of a wealthy son-in-law. All of which makes for hilarity, high-jinks and maybe just a little romance. The director of this year’s show by the award-winning drama group is Liz Rhodes, with the cast featuring Chloe King as the Princess and Jo Taylor as Jack, Andy Ferguson as Jasper and Mark Croft as Jethro. The Dame is Grant Fellows, who recently retired as a vicar in the town, while Maggie Moulds is Puss and John Stone is the evil ogre Grump.
2 ROBIN HOOD
Milton Keynes Theatre, until January 13
Soap star Shane Richie leads the cast in this year’s Milton Keynes Theatre panto. He stars in the title role alongside comedian Peter Piper as Friar Tuck and West End star Gina Murray as the Spirit of Sherwood. Having established himself as one of the nation’s favourite soap stars, Shane has won numerous awards and millions of fans for his portrayal of Albert Square’s lovable landlord Alfie Moon in EastEnders. Stage roles include touring productions of Peter James’ A Perfect Murder and Not Dead Enough. Peter Piper is no stranger to both sides of the Atlantic having appeared in television series in the UK and the USA, while Gina Murray has recently received much acclaim for portraying Velma von Tussle in Hairspray and has appeared in Mamma Mia!, Chicago, Fame and The Full Monty as well as appearing in Doctors, EastEnders and Judge John Deed. They are joined by The Acromaniacs, a fast and funny slapstick acrobatic act constantly in worldwide demand.
3 OPERA SCREENING
La traviata, Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre, January 30
Beamed live from the Royal Opera House, Verdi’s La traviata is one of the most popular of all operas. Richard Eyre’s production for The Royal Opera brings out all the emotional colour, from the giddy discovery of love, through painful confrontation to the inevitable conclusion.
American Idiot, Grove Theatre, Dunstable, January 17 to 19
Winner of two Tony Awards and the 2010 Grammy Award winner for Best Musical Show Album, American Idiot is the story of three boyhood friends, each searching for meaning in a post 9/11 world. The show features the music of Green Day.
The Girl on the Train, Milton Keynes Theatre, January 23 to 26
Adapted from Paula Hawkins’ novel of the same name - an international phenomenon selling more than 20 million copies worldwide - and starring Samantha Womack and Oliver Farnworth, this gripping new play will keep audiences guessing until the final moment.